Negotiations under way for car manufacturer to operate out of Special Economic Zone

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) – Negotiations are far advanced with a motor-vehicle manufacturer to operate out of one of the six special economic zones (SEZs) that have already been designated by the Government.

Chairman of the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority, Metry Seaga, said that the entity’s operations will mainly entail assembly.

“We actually have some of the vehicles here now, and it’s a programme we’re working towards… (and) we’re just trying to finalise it. But Jamaicans will be able to get cars… at significantly lower prices,” he pointed out.

Seaga was speaking recently on the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) news magazine programme, ‘Issues and Answers’.

SEZs represent a wide variety of geographically demarcated areas that offer simple and efficient business regulations and procedures for investors.

The Special Economic Zones Act, which came into force on August 1, 2016, provides for the designation, promotion, development, operation, and management of the zones, the establishment of a Special Economic Zone Authority, and the granting of incentives in order to attract domestic and foreign investments.

The six zones already designated are Cazoumar, Barnett Tech Park, and Montego Bay Free Zone in St James; Kingston Free Zone, Garmex, and Kingston Wharves Limited in the Corporate Area. The Jamaican Government envisions that SEZs will attract investment and new economic activities to Jamaica, and generate employment.

Seaga said he is anticipating a huge uptick in manufacturing, business process outsourcing (BPO), services and shipping, from the accompanying tax-incentive regime.

Under the regime, entities operating within and through the zones, whether as manufacturers, importers/exporters or providers of goods and services, will benefit from income-tax reductions or exemptions.

The measure, he said, will result in lower prices to consumers, where the companies are the sole suppliers in Jamaica of the goods and services being provided.

“So, let’s say Sony decides to come to Jamaica to manufacture televisions… those televisions will be sold in the local market as if they were a local product, simply because there is no competition for that product here. So, Jamaicans would benefit from lower-priced televisions,” the Chairman explained.

He said these benefits would not apply if there is a local manufacturer of the product being supplied, as this would constitute direct competition.

Seaga said local manufacturers and producers operating through the SEZs, whether directly or as subcontractors will also benefit from the incentives being offered.

He told JIS News that the objective of the SEZs is to “get the right mix of people and the right mix of products”.

“What we are looking for are non-competing products. So, we don’t want people who are (brewing) beer, for example, because we already have a very mature beer market in Jamaica. It is our (Authority) duty to work with (entities like) JAMPRO to make sure that we get the right investment pool,” he pointed out.

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